Category Archives: 2015-2016

Book Review: “Water for Elephants”

By Alanna Anderson 

***There is content within the review that may ruin the plot for some people***

If you’re into historical fiction, shifts between time period, romance, slightly graphic sex scenes, and don’t mind animal abuse and violence or slightly unrealistic endings, then Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen might just be for you.

The story tells the journey of the main character, Jacob, who ends up in the circus after an unfortunate event leaves him feeling lost, abandoned, and in search of a new home. The rest of the story entails not only his journey with the circus, but also narrative shifts to present time where he’s in an old folks home complaining about his helpless state. Not only are the morals and scenery of the story compelling, but the characters of the story, for the most part, seem to come to life.

If you are looking for action, this story is probably not the best place to look for it but it does include its own spark. The story is one that mainly touches on the struggles and troubles of life and those who are living, just trying to make it through. The main downfalls are the main character (and his romance), unnecessary description, and lack of a structured plot that keeps the story from being truly great.  Overall, the main purpose of the story was clear and I felt anticipation, but not enough to be truly impressed with the story.

 

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Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson starred in the 2011 movie adaptation of the book.

Something that definitely caught my attention throughout the story were the morals that the characters introduced. The author had the good fortune of choosing a setting and time period that could be manipulated easily for her story. Since the story took place during The Great Depression, Gruen does a great job of channeling all of the desperation and loss that was common during that time. This was also used to find ways to implement specific themes and values throughout almost the whole story, but the one that stuck out the most to me was the idea of respect. The idea of being able to respect people as a common courtesy and only stopping when their actions prove that they should be treated otherwise.

Another moral was that everyone has struggles and that it’s not wrong to acknowledge them. These are just two among the many that could’ve been interpreted, like how being abusive and not showing humanity can result in a hard case of karma. The morals definitely made the story more complex emotionally. If someone wanted to read a fiction book that touched on morals and the underlying aspects of human nature then this book is suggestible. This is one of the techniques that I really appreciated in the book and found to be enjoyable.

It was enjoyable how the author took advantage of characters and their development in order to keep the reader interested. Sadly, she seems to expand on every character except for Jacob and Marlena (a person very close to Jacob). With these two characters she sort of expects the reader to just like them and automatically accept them. This lead me to create a strong bond with a lot of the characters, such as Kinko, a man who ends up being Jacob’s friend. I really felt for him and wanted to hear more about his story than I wanted to hear about Jacob’s. Another person who I wanted to know more about was Camel, a kind-hearted drunk in the circus, as it’s hinted at that he has a dramatic past, but his past is only mentioned to make Jacob have sympathy for him.

43641.jpgA way that the author created these connections was making the reader feel sympathy for
a character; it made me care more about them and feel like I’m supposed to pay attention to them. It was actually very effective but where the author went wrong is when she only added in these characters’ stories to attempt to make Jacob more interesting. I feel that this was a lost opportunity for her because her story was held back due to trying to progress a character who just wasn’t that interesting.        

A cool aspect of the story is that the point of view shifts between the young and older version of Jacob. Seeing the differences between the two sides of him helped with the mystery of the story because it built anticipation as to how he ended up where he was at. His grouchiness seemed a bit odd too. When he is young he is cheery and innocent and chivalrous, and when he is older he loses that charm and becomes a crabby elderly man. This can happen and I’m sure that it has happened to people before, but for the character himself it seemed to just discredit the positive emotions that he feels while he’s young. This also begins to create too strong of a contrast between young Jacob and older Jacob. The differences in their personality at times makes it seem like I’m not even reading from the perspective of the same character.

The personification in the story was one of my favorite techniques.  Rosie, the smartest and most kind-hearted elephant who is Jacob’s best friend, and even other animals such as the always smiling chimpanzee were described frequently as smiling or doing something such as shaking a hand in thanks, or showing a strong spark of intelligence. This had the benefit of making me feel closer to the animals than the humans sometimes because they were the only ones acting relaxed most of the time and not freaking out like the humans were.

The one issue with this is that I wanted more mentions of the animals. They seemed like they would be a focal point of the story because of Jacob’s occupation and interests, but they’re used more to enhance the story than actually be that involved in it. The personification of the animals was made even more interesting when they’re compared to how the humans are physically described in the story. In one sex scene the man is made to sound beWater-For-Elephantsast-like and in moments of anger the humans are described as feral and wild. This contributed to the parallel of appearance being deceiving and the “real animals” being humans due to their destructive nature.

I started reading the story with high expectations because of the buzz that had been built around it, but found myself greatly disappointed. Expecting something great from a book because it has become popular and a movie is always a way to find disappointment. I still have an underlying frustration with the story because I was stuck in a state of excited expectation and never-ending boredom.

Many aspects of the story left me conflicted, like my opinion on Jacob. He was the kind of main character that I felt sympathy for, but started to lose a connection to because I was constantly waiting for him to make up his mind and come to a decision about his life and people and stick to it. Luckily, I felt a better connection to a lot of the other characters of the story and they’re what helped me to pull through and kept me reading. I do appreciate that the impression of chaotic circus life did help me to connect to the story and Jacob more.

The anticlimactic events in the story (that were usually anticlimactic due to Jacob’s constant inaction) contributed, in my opinion, to the story’s decrease in greatness. It’s alright to have a few teasing moments, but the story seemed to take the moments that I was looking forward to and made them completely disappear. The ending made me want to bang my head against a wall for a bit as well. It seemed too farfetched and unrealistic and completely rushed. It seems especially rushed when I found out that the author wrote the story in a month, and this might have made it zoom through the editing process. If it weren’t for my interest in the characters of the story and how they would turn out my interest in the story would’ve almost been completely gone.

My awareness of writing techniques definitely made me disappointed with certain aspects of the story. Scenery was definitely a high point and cannot be touched, but the graphic sex scenes of the story felt sort of desperate at times. Instead of relying on the natural surprising aspects of the circus, the author began to write in sex scenes that left me wondering about the necessity of them.

Capture.PNGAs they continued I became more and more aware of how unnecessary they were and how exactly they were holding the story back. It seemed like the author felt the need to throw in unnecessary events to an already wild story, unrealistic love between love interests, a slightly boring main character that remains stagnant while others develop, and a pace that isn’t consistent. All of these elements contributed to my displeasure at the story.

Gruen’s imagery was bitter-sweet for me. Some of her imagery was enjoyable and helped me to keep reading.  The life of someone living at a circus was vivid and descriptive and I could clearly imagine Jacob tending to the animals, and his vivid horror at being tricked into being bit by a lion. A counter to this is the fact that Gruen would describe some unimportant things more than others. There’s a sexual scene that is described in great (great, great, great) detail and it bordered on making me uncomfortable because the language and description became very vivid at this time specifically. At other times, events that were important to me just fell through the cracks. So while imagery was one of my favorite techniques of the story because it connected me to the text, it also put me off at times because of the moments and events that the author chose to explode and describe the most.

One of the biggest downfalls of the story was its lack of a structured and well paced plot. The story begins with a flash of a future event and it built the anticipation a lot. After reading that my expectations for the story grew even more because I looking forward to said huge event.

The beginning of the story had a pace that was okay. In the middle of the story I started to water-for-elephants.pngget the feeling that the author was getting bored with the story. It just felt like she was slowing down too much and trying to expand all of the moments that really didn’t need that done to them. At the end of the story I was so disappointed. The author seemed to just give up and assume that what she had written was enough to make up for a rushed ending. Basically, it felt like she was turning in an assignment that was due in an hour. This caused me to care a bit less about the story because she seemed to care less too.

The story had good points and bad points, but overall it is not a book that I will come back to soon. I felt like I was constantly looking for something that the story just couldn’t provide. The good use of writing techniques really couldn’t make up for the issues that I saw with pacing, Jacob, and the lack of attention drawn to certain aspects like secondary characters, because they were too distracting. If I had to read the story again it would be as a reference for imagery, but not for the plot at all. I’m still really glad that I could find a moral to take away from the story, but it’s from what I found in the text and not from any special relationship with a character. Maybe if the author had payed more attention to making her events deliberate and blending with her writing techniques I would feel differently.

I would suggest this book to someone if I knew that that didn’t bother them. I’d also suggest this book to people who enjoy books with imagery and are looking for something fun that includes morals about life, but not something that is even close to being considered a literary classic.

Alanna Anderson is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram

When Killers are Idolized

By Alanna Anderson 

 

A recurring fact of life is that when you see a disaster or crime occurring it is hard to look away. The suspense surrounding the situation seems to capture our attention there and keep it due to morbid curiosity. But while looking at the crime itself, we don’t see the victim(s). We don’t see who has been affected and injured by the event. Of course there are victims, but we don’t know their names, we don’t know who in their life will be affected by the event, and we don’t know their stories. All we’re usually told is an estimate of their age, a brief mention that they are leaving children or a spouse behind, and facts on why the attacker would’ve attacked them: like gender, race or other characteristics and actions to provide motive.

This is the same case in a lot of mass killings. While we receive detailed observations of the attacker through the news (their name, age, reassurance of their “calm” personality, and how exactly they had planned and executed the crime) the information about the victim(s) is left in the dark. They become lost as a number. A countless one, two, and three on a list of the people dead or injured. In the meantime, the attacker receives multiple detailed profiles.

Even when reading some novels on serial killers, the killers are almost idolized because of the attention that they receive, but usually just one or two of the victims are mentioned, usually to evoke sympathy, and the rest is just statistics. Otherwise, the lives of the victim(s) are lost to us and they become the unwilling catalyst for propelling the killer’s fame and popularity.

To add on to the idea of idolization, you have to think about this from the point of view of the shooter. In their profiles, they are often depicted as attention seekers that feel wronged somehow by a perceived injustice that has been dealt against them. They then turn that strong feeling of betrayal into an ideology that includes the pain of others for retribution. Part of that retribution could be public humiliation. Though many killers say that the act was for themselves and not the public, there is a harsh kind of empathy in forcing others to feel the pain that you are feeling or have felt.

By paying so much attention to the killer we are giving them attention that they may need to further their agenda. This attention is given to them in place of reaching out to give sympathy to the victim who has been violated and exploited.

“We need to pay more attention to helping the victim instead of making killers into movie stars.”

People tend to dehumanize shooters and make them into pop culture icons instead of the actual human beings that they are. But it does help to keep in mind that they are people. They are our neighbors, the people standing behind us in line at the grocery store, and driving in the car in front of us. In the words of Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird: “A mob’s made up of people, no matter what.” Behind every violent action is a human emotion that drove them to that path.

While these people shouldn’t be idolized and given so much attention to the point of ignoring the victim(s), we need to make sure that we keep this person as human as possible without glazing over their horrible actions. By seeing the attacker as human, it helps to keep in mind that they have to be held accountable for what they have done since we are all (for the most part) accountable for our actions.

Sometimes people may not even be aware of the fact that they are promoting what this person has done. This, however, can’t be helped. The idea of the unknown and different just attracts us. We can’t help but be curious about the people who have deviated from the morals and paths laid coded into different cultures and societies. We collect their facts like trading cards and we memorize every facet of their treacherous executions. The issue is not the morbid curiosity itself, it’s how it becomes presented when dealing with the situation. Writers and publishers are getting paid to provide what will be relevant and what will sell. When they see that what people are more interested in the killer than the victim, they feed off of that in a cycle of buy and demand.

When media and people’s personal interests give so much attention we are feeding into the attention that they crave. We are giving into that motive that they had and proving that through this terrible action they are getting closer to reaching their ulterior motive. What makes this even worse is when a person who allegedly knew the attacker says things about them that seem to erase the fact that they have murdered or injured a person/people. Things like: “they are usually so nice,” “I’ve never known them to be violent or rude to anybody,” and, “this isn’t like them at all.”

There’s also the trouble behind the news displaying certain attackers as distinguished and polished people and focusing on all of the reasons why they couldn’t have done this instead of all of the things that they did.

Remember that whenever you think about the actions of a killer, you must always remember those directly affected by them too. While the killer should be considered in a situation, you must always acknowledge the victim and their suffering. Pay attention to the victim in a car crash instead of the sight of the cars after they’ve crashed. And, besides, why would you want to romanticize a person who’s done nothing romantic or heroic?

In order to make the victim feel like what they have gone through has not been ignored in the face of the person who has hurt them, we need to make sure that we have our priorities straight as far as who we’re going to reach out to. We need to pay more attention to helping the victim instead of making killers into movie stars.  

Alanna Anderson is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram 

“The Glass Castle”Book Review

By Stephane Mohr

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is one of the most brilliant, gorgeous books I have ever read. A heartbreaking, intense story of the life of Jeanette and her three siblings as they learn to cope with their parents’ instability, Walls recalls her childhood and, more specifically, the heart-wrenching relationship between she and her father with such vivid descriptions that it’s easy to forget the novel is actually a memoir. Complete and utter real life events and people mapped out within three hundred pages of broken promises and barely-there hope.

The novel follows Jeanette from the age of three until what seems to be, but is never specified, he early thirties, and her siblings Lori, Brian and Maureen as they bounce from place to place on the west coast with their unreliable parents — their alcoholic father, Rex and their selfish, seemingly uncaring mother, Rose Mary. He can’t hold a job for very long, doesn’t trust anyone, and is always “doing the skedaddle” — moving anywhere the government can’t find him, probably because he owes taxes, although he creates elaborate, intense stories of mafias and gangs that are after him, instead, just to make everything seem more like an adventure.71VBpx0qsmL.jpg

Everything has to be an adventure for Rex and Rose Mary. They get antsy if they stay in one place too long, and hate “living like normal people”. They’d much rather camp out in the middle of the Nevada desert and starve than live in a regular house with neighbors and a steady income. Which is all fine and dandy — when you’re not dragging a newborn and three elementary school aged children along with you.

Not everything in the Walls’ children’s life is bad, and their parents aren’t completely horrible at times — and what a beautiful thing Walls, as an author, does to show us this. When reading a memoir, I find myself always needing to remind myself that everything is really. The people actually lived, the events actually took place, certain dialogue was actually said — those types of things, and The Glass Castle was no different. However, what did stick out to me from other memoirs I’ve read was the characterization of the people she was writing.

People are not black and white. An obvious statement, but still, necessary to make. Everyone is deeply flawed and intensely intricate in their own ways, and the relationships we form with others is no different. Jeanette shows us this in the most beautiful way possible. As she recalls her childhood, the struggles she faces and the relationships she forms with her siblings is obviously there, but it becomes clear almost immediately that the book as a whole is about her father. And about she and her father’s relationship as a father and daughter.

She takes us through being a child, and idolizing her father. Hanging on to his every word, defending him when others call him a bum, or an alcoholic, or accuse him of being a bad dad. She shows us that he is a highly unlikable character. Verbally abusive to his wife, neglectful of his children, selfish. As readers, we want to hate Rex, but we can’t quite do it. Why? Because he’s human. And because he’s human, he is not all bad. Jeanette shows us sparse, but absolutely stunning moments where we as readers can see just how much he truly loves his children.

The moments are more like seconds. Barely there glimpses into his mind and his thoughts. When he takes each child out individually and gives them a star for Christmas. When he almost loses Jeanette and Brian because they get caught in a fire. When he sneaks them in to the zoo and convinces them to pet a tiger. When Jeanette finally leaves the house. But these moments, like they are not enough, in the end, to keep Jeanette wanting to stay, are equally not enough for us, as readers, to feel completely bad for him. Still, he is human.

Along with her stunning characterizations of not just her father, but her mother and siblings as well, Walls pairs her unique narrative with such vivid imagery, the reader is immediately there with her, wherever she goes. A casino in Vegas, a run down town at the edge of a barely-running train station, a suburban neighborhood in Phoenix, an ashy mountainside in Virginia. Every description of every season, sunset, street corner and car ride is so alive and so detailed, you wonder if she visited these places again as an adult, just to get them just right.

“The Glass Castle”, while the title of the book, is also the dream Rex Walls had for his children. Whether it was a legitimate plan, or just something he made up to keep them sedated and interested is never truly explained (although the reader gets the feel it was more of the latter). The Glass Castle was just that — a castle made of glass, that he would build sky high and they would all live in. One big happy family. The Glass Castle serves as well as a metaphor for all of the promises Rex made Jeanette and never kept. All of the dreams he talked about having, and the things they would all do, but never did.

The book catalogs the less than unusual childhood the Walls children had, the bonds formed between siblings in the face of adversity and neglect, the love Jeannette has for literature and writing, the dreams she and her siblings had to finally get out, and get away, and escape. And her father. The one she always vouched for, always believed, and always loved. The one who, even though he may have made some pretty questionable decisions, was still, until the very end, human.

Stephane Mohr is a Senior at Barbara Ingram

Fourth of July: When America Takes Over the Internet

By Alanna Anderson 

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Fourth of July is a time for barbecues, fireworks, people wearing full outfits with the American flag as the only pattern, and the highly anticipated summer memes. They can be optimistic, or sarcastic, but either way they will discuss the views and thoughts of some citizens when it comes to America. First, I’ll start out by introducing a little background on this holiday that is more than just a day for elaborate firework shows.

We all know, even if it’s vaguely, the story of the colonists showing true American stubbornness by declaring independence from the British. What you may not know is that since John Adams believed that Independence Day was on the 2nd he refused to celebrate it on the fourth. Ironically, he died on July 4th, 1826. I don’t know exactly what you’d like to do with that information but, if anything, you could use it as an excuse to light fireworks on both days — even if your neighbors give you disgruntled looks. Early celebrations of the Fourth of July differ from today mainly because of the cultural differences of the time periods.

Fireworks were documented to have been used as early as 1040 in China, but the first commemorative fireworks set off in America was in 1777. Despite this, fireworks for public use didn’t become available until 1783. This ruled out the early use of fireworks and in its place was instead the ringing of bells, bonfires, recitation of speeches, concerts, parades, and the firing of cannons and muskets.

Another interesting event, which may or may not be debated as morbid, was the fact that the colonists held mock funerals of King George III. The colonists saw this as a way to symbolize that the King’s rule was dead. They would even carry around an empty casket with the King’s name on it and sit it near a gravestone that also had his name on it. I don’t know about you but I could see this becoming a coming-of-age tradition for eighteen year olds leaving the house to go to college. Or for millennials when they leave home.

Back to the focus of the article, it seems that a new tradition has been adopted by the holiday. While some guests at celebrations are kicking back with reminiscent tales, the others are lounging back in order to post what we’re all really excited for: holiday memes. It seems like memes have a culture all their own. They manage to connect all of our thoughts and emotions into one little picture and facial expression.

Fourth of July memes take on a whole new meaning when they begin to remind us of the reasons why some people might not appreciate the fourth of July. Such as:

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While others are focusing on the advantages that this holiday brings (like the sales) (just kidding) (kind of), others are focusing on other aspects. Like the reasons why the holiday highlights the fact that though we fought for independence, the lack of independence for some means that we have an unfinished battle.The Fourth of July is when  some will take the time to focus on the fact that the holiday contains a lot of irony.

Such as:

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We shouldn’t ignore that there is merit to the holiday, but we also shouldn’t ignore the irony of the holiday. While watching the fireworks light up the sky, also remember the smoke of muskets that took the lives of people whose land was taken. While stuffing hot dogs in your mouth, also remember those who were stopped from eating for the sake of being forced to build this country.

Fourth of July memes help to bring people back from the fireworks and into reality. They help people realize that there is more to this holiday than food and American flags. That even though we are free from British rule, there are still people in the present and in the past that have been oppressed by America’s power and ruling. This is not to say that people shouldn’t enjoy the holiday, it’s just to say that people should be aware of what this holiday means to everybody and not just themselves. Memes help people to be able to step away from themselves and into other perspectives. A memorable caption and a facial expression accomplishes this with just a click, and internet connection.

Alanna Anderson is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram 

Amelia’s Long List of Suggestions For a Grand Romantic Summer

By Amelia Lowry

“People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent.”- Bob Dylan

My great-grandparents met when my great-grandfather rode a motorcycle past my great-grandmother, who was taking a stroll with her mother. When he saw her, he knew she was the one he’d spend the rest of his life with. My great-grandfather stood up on his motorcycle (I wasn’t even an egg yet, so there’s no way to know for sure, but I like to imagine he was sort of proud, with his hands on his hips and his shoulders back) and my great-grandmother’s mom turned to her and said: “You can never marry a boy like that.”

Sometimes I think about the stories I’ll be able to tell my grandchildren (or, if the whole starting-a-family thing doesn’t work out, the stories I’ll be able to tell my six tiny snakes). I want to have crazy stories about my teenage-years. More importantly, I want to experience things. I don’t want to be at a disadvantage just because my generation has faster access to entertainment — I want to get up and go just as much as my parents did and their parents before them. And while there’s no time like the present, let’s face it: there’s just more time to do stuff in the summer.

So, if you’re like me in the sense that you want your coming-of-age years to be as grand and unforgettable as possible, here’s a giant list of 20 ideas to make your summer something for the books.

  1. Keep a journal! Of course your summer will be something for the books if you record your summer in a book. Thisaway, when you’re sad in the winter because you miss the hot weather, you can pull that baby out and reminisce. Also, there’s something about a used journal that just makes me !!!
  2. Put on some funny clothes and go rollerskating. Here: some inspiration.
  3. What’s a summer without camping? A bummer, that’s what.601864ce07e8ca8c123aa740313fd7f0
  4. Or, if you’re not an outdoorsy kinda person, don’t bug out! I see a blanket fort in your future.
  5. There’s so much free time in the summer, so naturally, it’s a great time to adopt a new hobby. Cooking is always a good one because if you don’t eat, you’ll die, but there’s also knitting, or gardening, or the arts (ha!).
  6. If you live in Washington County, I’m willing to wager that there are times you aren’t the proudest of your small town. But since you can’t change everything, research the most touristy spots in your town and check them out! Try to see where you come from with a different point of view: from someone who wants to be there.
  7. Alternatively, sometimes you just live in the middle of a cornfield any way you slice it. But do not fret! There are some super neat places in the tri-state area. Shepherdstown is a delight, and there’s something for everyone: a book store, a small theater, a fairy store. If you’re the singing type or even if you just like to watch, the Blue Moon Café has an open mic night every Wednesday at 9 o’clock and it’s quite a time. (And if you haven’t already been, the Lost Dog Café has great coffee and a super great atmosphere. Unless you’re easily frightened by stickers — then you must run far, far away.)
  8. Go to a concert! Local or not, you can never go wrong with a good ‘ole hip-hoppin’ family-fun. Unless it’s a band you don’t like, and then you may not have a very nice time.RH-MIXTAPE_grande.png
  9. Make a soundtrack for your summer! Whenever you’ll hear those songs in the future,
    they’ll make you think of nice stuff.
  10. Find a dirt-filled spot, spray some water on it, and you’ve got your own mudpit! Do you love feeling like you’re covered in chalk? Then mudpits are the thing for you!
  11. Go swimming in the river and pretend your life is a scene from an old country movie!
  12. You’ve probably got a little basket or bag around your house somewhere — make some sandwiches and hit the road! Have a picnic somewhere new. (Extra points if you invite me!)
  13. Trampoline. Park. You must. Go. Bounce.
  14. Get a bunch of your friends to dress up like you’re all from Grease and go to a drive-in movie! It’s a requirement to dress up like you’re from Grease, because otherwise, you might as well go watch an indoor movie.
  15. In general, do stuff that scares you! It’s summertime, and this is the best time to change and grow because you don’t have an audience. Remember that it’s perfectly OK if something doesn’t happen like you think it will — what matters is that you try. You don’t want to be stuck in the same place forever, do you? I don’t think so!
  16. Take a train somewhere!
  17. So, you know how sometimes when you’re listening to music, you’ll look outside the window of the car and pretend you’re in a movie? What if you made a little dumb hipster montage of a day in the life of YOU? You could add in a little song, too, then you’ll basically have a you-themed version of Submarine.
  18. Wat-er was that? Did someone say “cape-cod-beacheswatergun fight”? More like water-fun fight.
  19. Have a bonfire and make s’mores! *POST SCRIPT MAGAZINE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY OUT OF CONTROL FIRES FUELED BY THIS SUGGESTION*
  20. Lastly and not leastly, wake up early and watch the sunrise. Start your day off appreciating something you probably don’t see very often!

Don’t spend your whole summer inside your house not doing anything. What kind of a story is that? “Yes, my grandchildren, when I was a young whippersnapper like yourself, my Tumblr was especially aesthetic. There were gradients all over the place. It was wild.” Figure out what everyone means when they say that these are the best years of your life. As Hannah Montana once said, “Life’s what you make it, so let’s make it rock!”

Amelia Lowry is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram

The Most Literal Ways To Stay Cool This Summer

By Kaitlin Gertz 

Summer’s here, and so is ninety-degree weather, sunburn, and heatstroke. Of course, the break from school is relaxing, but there’s just no way to stay cool enough to enjoy it. You’re slathering on sunscreen and sweating like a glass of iced tea. Now it’s time to follow your tea and get iced. Take it from the experts at staying cool (like me): there are easy, affordable ways to stay cool this summer, and one of them does include becoming a human ice pop.

The absolute easiest way to stay cool is to stuff yourself inside your fridge. Make sure to clean out any food or drinks that may be blocking your way. This rule also applies to any drawers and shelves that don’t look too important. While you’re at it, have some ice cream. It certainly can’t hurt. An expert tip is to take the ice cream in the fridge with you. Though you may be in a space that’s only 30 cubic feet, you are sticking it to the sun and are more ice-cold than Outkast. (Side effects may include suffocation, hypothermia, panic attacks from claustrophobia, freezer burn, and thoughts of “How could I have been this stupid?”).

In the vein of stupid (which is what your honey might be calling you after this trick) there’s another tip that we can assure helps to keep you cool. Instead of cozying up with dunking-fred.jpgyour boo and smooching, avoid getting heated up. Alternately, you two can do fun couple activities that involve staying cold, like chugging ice water to see who gets brain freeze first. Or if competition isn’t your thing, you can snuggle–just make sure to get a freezable blanket and put it on ice.

Mint is renowned for its fresh, cool flavor. This is your chance to stock up on all things
mint. Mint leaves, gum, candy, jello, toothpaste, scented candles, car fresheners, you name it! You can chew, huff, and smoke all the mint you want if it helps you beat the heat. You may go broke buying all those mint products, but hey, at least you won’t be hot.

 Lastly, we all know being cool comes from the inside, not the outside. The best way to avoid the heat is to put on some shades and rock out to the coolest bands. Some recommendations include Vanilla Ice (and “Ice Ice Baby”), Coldplay, Snow Patrol, and Arctic Monkeys. You have to let the spirit of those cooler than you move through you. Listening to cool bands makes you cooler, after all. But most importantly, you have to chill out and not stress.Tic-Tac-Coupon

So if you’re worried about getting too hot this summer, don’t. There are a plethora of options to help you escape the heat, from stuffing yourself inside a fridge to smoking mint (but not weed; drugs aren’t cool) and listening to the chilliest bands. Whether it be inside or out, you can always be cool.

Kaitlin Gertz is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram

 

Float on Down

By Breanna Myers and Amelia Lowry

Every day as I walk to and from the different buildings where I have my classes, I like to look around and notice the curiosities of our downtown area. Sometimes, it’s the pedestrians with their little puppies, or the cars driving by with their windows down and loud music blaring. Sometimes, it’s the things I pass by everyday and never really take the time to consider. For example, the little float spa on the first floor of the Grand Piano building.

What was this place? Was it like a giant bath? What was this experience supposed to help with? Who would pay to float in a tank of water for an hour in the dark? Why Hagerstown? I had lots of questions. But most importantly: what was it for?

Eric Sarmiento and his family, who own and run Regenerate, were overjoyed to let us check it out and answer any questions we had. I ventured down there nearly every day for a week with questions from, “What made you decide to open up Regenerate?” to flat out, “What is it and why is it different from floating in my bathtub?” They were more than patient with my high school antics.

The story of the float spa began when Sarmiento heard from friends of floating’s power

and, once he tried it, it he was hooked. He loved that the floating experience gave him a better sense of mental clarity, along with the physically healing elements as well.

“Really, what is floating? And why am I going to spend $80 on it?” I asked cynically.

Apparently I wasn’t the only asking these questions. WHAG news did a story on Regenerate back in 2015 when they first opened and they describe it as “the latest health trend that people are doing to unwind after a long day.” The pods with their 10 inches of water saturated with 1000 pounds of epsom salt hold both mental and physical healing properties.

After so many visits, I felt at home in their calming lobby. Between aromatherapy, himalayan rock lamps, and soothing music, and even the employee’s light voices, both Amelia, a fellow BISFA writer, and I were fighting yawns every time we walked in.

Before we knew it, the day of the float had arrived. It was Earth Day, and Sarmiento greeted us with a smile as always. “You know who’s birthday it is today? Earth’s.” We just laughed nervously, wondering what the heck we were getting ourselves into.

Sarmiento opened the door to the hallway for rooms with the isolation pods, which we’d 98289_large_1.pngnever seen. It was even more mysterious than I imagined. It was completely dark, save for three closed doors, out from under which emerged glowing lights. It looked like something straight out of an 80s sci-fi film. Thankfully, no aliens came running out when Sarmiento opened the first door. Instead, there was what seemed like a large, white incubator that took up most of the room. This was a “pod.” Amelia and I stepped into the dark room, where green light was blooming from the corner. The room itself was very warm and had a very interesting earthy scent. Besides the pod, there was only a shower, and some hygienic necessities.

“So. First impressions?” Sarmiento asked. We just laughed, mumbling something about being excited. After a brief introduction to the room and how our session would go, I left Amelia in the first room and made my way to the second floating room, where the light was pink instead of green.

An hour later, I was sipping water and struggling to find equilibrium in the lobby while I waited for Amelia to emerge. Finally, she came out, hair wet and looking equal parts rejuvenated and loopy.

“How’d ya like it?” I asked.

“I died…” we all looked at her, startled. “In a good way.”

I understood where she was coming from, but it didn’t quite feel like death for me. Rather, I felt like I was enveloped in a thick, opaque fog. I could still do everything, but it all took a bit more effort. Additionally, I noticed Amelia and I were both talking slower as well, giddy on the 1,000 pounds of epsom salt we had just spent an hour in. On the way out, we ran into one of our teachers, Mrs. Taylor, and she looked at us like we had just come back from Narnia. “Where have you guys been?”

“We were trying out the float spa,” I said sluggardly.

“Woah! What was it like?” Mrs. Taylor asked.

“It felt like I was dead,” Amelia said, using her new catchphrase. “Because, you can’t feel your body ‘cause the water feels the same as the air, and everything is really dark, and even if you open your eyes it feels like they’re closed.”

“It was so freaky! I feel really… light. It’s odd,” I grinned stupidly. Mrs. Taylor laughed and walked out to her car saying something about seeing us tomorrow.

Amelia and I continued to our destinations, tripping down the sidewalk as we went along. “What were you thinking about the whole time?” Amelia asked me.

“How much I wished I wasn’t thinking anything. And how loud my breathing was. You never really notice it, ya know?”

Regenerate-Float-Saver-img.jpg“I had ‘The Great Outdoors’ playing,” Amelia said, gesturing to express the dramatic title of her “mood” music. We had been given options for the background noise beforehand, and I had picked “Gentle Rainfall” (a much less theatrical title.) “And so, the whole time I was kind of thinking about all the different places I had been outside, and it felt sort of like I was small again. Because it’s pretty easy to have that child-like sense of wonder when you’re in a little capsule.” I found myself being distracted by everything happening around me, my brain newly aware of all the extra stimulus.

I tried to refocus on Amelia, “I turned my music off right away, trying to get the ‘authentic experience’, ya know? Did you have your light on in the pod?”

“No, I turned it off as soon as I got in. I had to make sure to keep my mind away from horror-movie scenarios, because I knew that could get bad pretty fast,” Amelia said.

“I understand, I had a lot of trouble just surrendering. It was all so scary but freeing, too. I didn’t realize how much it worked until I tried to stand up, I almost fell over!” Amelia and I went our separate ways and I decided to walk home, savoring the invigorating and relaxing effects of the float.

The next day, I barreled down the steps to the first floor with my classmates as always. I glanced in, waving at Sarmiento and the other employees and smiling sheepishly as I realized just how loud and busy we all were. It was amusing to think about how just through those doors was a serene escape while we all babbled about homework and stress and everything else that comes with being a student at BISFA.

Breanna Myers is a Senior at Barbara Ingram and Amelia Lowry is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram.

Violet Relaxation

By Katherine Napier

You get home from school in a bad mood, so you toss down your bags and let out a heavy sigh that alerts your parents of a rotten emotion filling your mind and chest. Your parents try to talk to you but you just storm by them, going to your room. You faceplant onto your bed and let out an agonizing scream. Your mom walks in and asks why you’re so upset and you just sit up angrily, glaring at her. She puts her hand on your shoulder and reassures you that she’s here to listen. You slowly begin to explain how awful your day was, you got into a fight with your best friend and now you aren’t talking. You got yelled at by a teacher for missing the previous day.

Your mother just sighs and tries to explain that this is just life and that’s how it works. You look at her with disbelief because she just sided with the rest of the world when she should be siding with you. You think of the next best place to go, a place she can’t follow you to— the roof. You wait for her to leave and then you slowly ease yourself off of your bed and up into the “attic”. The steep steps creak under the weight of your body and anger pushing onto them to propel you up further.

The window slides open with a slight rumble and the screen hesitantly releases itself from the latches and allows you to open it. You step out of the window, feeling the roof just right below your right foot and you plant yourself. Next, you grab the side of the window and carefully step out with your left foot (keeping your right hand on the brick side of the house). Your feet are planted firmly and now you slowly walk up the first peak of the roof, turning to see the sunset beginning. A smile manages to peek out from behind your frown. You climb to the highest point of your roof and sit down just below the place where the two slants meet.

Capture

The sky is filling with orange that blends in with the pink. The purple is blending in with the blue. The clouds are showing a contrast meant for a professional photographer to capture. You begin to focus on your breath– In. Out. In. Out. Inhaling the stress of the day. Exhaling the relief of watching the sun set behind the trees. The clouds are swirling, seeming to match the soothing of your emotions and evaporating when the anger is released from your chest. You’re tempted to let out a scream as a bird flies by, landing on the roof in front of you. You notice the beauty of seeing such a majestic creature, watching one of the most beautiful sunsets you’ve ever seen.

The sunset is reflecting your emotions, you tell yourself. You’re begging yourself to just slip away, let yourself melt into your surroundings like the orange the pink blend before becoming a hot pink tangerine. Let yourself darken a tad like the purple and the blue turning into a periwinkle. This is what you live for, seeing the sunset after a long stressful day. Inhaling the stress and exhaling the relaxation of knowing you’re at peace with yourself, with the world.

Katherine Napier is a Junior at Barbara Ingram